Team Canada scored two podiums at the Rok Cup SuperFinal in Italy last week as Mark Pavan and Caleb Campbell scored podium results.
After four days of intense competition, and many more practice days for most, everything came down to Saturday’s main events at the South Garda Karting circuit in Lonato, Italy. Nearly 400 drivers from around the world were in attendance all with the goal of becoming a SuperFinal champion.
After Qualifying and heat races, the top 36 in each category advanced to the main events. The Mini, Junior and Senior divisions featured more than 80 competitors each, and the next 36 drivers transferred to the Trophy Finals for those classes.
Those trophy Finals started the main events off and Junior Rok was up first. Caleb Campbell just narrowly missed the cut for the main event and so he was on the pole position while Christian Menezes started a little deeper in the field.
It was a chaotic start but Campbell kept his composure and stayed up front, fending off a number of battles early while Menezes was quickly on the rise.
Campbell would eventually surrender the lead, but he settled into second place and managed his gap the rest of the way. Behind, Menezes was embedded in a hectic race for the final podium spot. Moving up and down the timing chart, a last lap maneuver moved him up two spots in the final three corners and he crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Without a doubt, Campbell is the most improved Canadian driver returning to the SuperFinal. Last year he jumped into the deep end of European Karting and learned the hard way, but he kept his head down and ultimately should’ve been in the A Final in Italy had it not been for a 10-second unsportsmanlike penalty in a heat race that we’re not sure was even meant for him.
In the Expert Rok division, there was also an Expert Plus group of racers on track at the same time. With no Canadians in Expert this year, our focus was on Expert Plus where Mark Pavan and Sylvain Coulombe were flying the maple leaf.
Coulombe had the better start but Pavan ultimately had the better race pace and he overcame a time penalty to put himself up on the podium, ranking fifth of the Expert Plus drivers, with Coulombe one spot back in sixth.
We also want to give a shout-out to Team USA for their 1-2 finish in Expert Rok, where Renato Jader-David dominated all weekend long and Derek Wang had his best drive of the week in the Final to join him on the podium.
There were a couple more Canadian drivers who scored top-ten results in their Finals.
Jensen Burnett finished sixth overall in the Rok Junior A Final. He mentioned to CKN that he just struggled for grip in the cooler conditions after having absolute pace the weekend before. He had to start the Final from ninth on the grid and did his best to stay with the lead pack, but as the laps ticked away he just couldn’t keep up, crossing the finish line 6.6 seconds adrift of the race winner. Nonetheless, it was still a great week of driving for the defending Mini Rok SuperFinal Champion.
In Rok Senior, all three of our Canadian drivers made it to the A Final.
A good week for Patrick Woods-Toth saw him finish eighth in the race. He was one of only two drivers not on a TonyKart in the top ten and while he was in early contention for the podium, it slipped away in the second half of the race.
For the second year in a row, Gianluca Savaglio was one of the biggest movers in the A Final. He advanced 16 spots in the race to finish 14th. A crash in one of his heat races nearly ruined his weekend, but he fought back hard and earned another respectable result.
Unfortunately for Robert Soroka, his race weekend ended upside down. He was mixing it up within the same pack as Savaglio until six laps to go when he was sent hard in corner six. His airborne ride ended with his sitting against the barriers, but thankfully he was able to walk away with just a bruise.
In Mini Rok, Decklan Deonarine impressed everyone all week and was rewarded with a spot on the grid for the A Final. He started the race in 18th but had slipped back eight spots in the intense race and ranked 26th when the dust settled. With nearly 100 of the world’s best Mini drivers in attendance, there is nothing to be disappointed in for Deonarine in Italy.
In the Mini Rok Trophy Final, Edward Kennedy rebounded from a scary crash in his final heat race to finish 16th while Justin Di Lucia was 22nd after moving up five spots in the race. David Zhao also made it into the Trophy Final and finished 31st.
Unfortunately for Quinn Tyers, he was one point away from making the Trophy Final and along with Matthew Roach, had to watch the Final races from the sidelines.
In Shifter Rok we watched Nicholas Taylor move through the field in the Final. He had some very unfortunate luck in the heat races, starting off by crossing the scales only a couple of hundred grams underweight in heat #1 to send him to the back of the grid.
But he persevered in his first Rok Cup SuperFinal and moved up 16 positions in the race to rank 16th, the highest of the Canadians.
Dante Lerra was right with Taylor through the middle stage of the Final until he spun in the same corner that Soroka crashed in and made heavy contact with his Lennox Racing teammate. Lerra was able to continue but his teammate was not.
Finally, Davide Greco earned himself three penalties in the Final race. He did charge forward toward the top ten, but it started with a jump start, and then he added on a pushback bumper penalty and a 10-second improper behaviour penalty for contact with a driver after the race. Looks like he didn’t learn after his actions at Mosport this summer after all.